Mars mission has drawn a blank, says former ISRO chairman

Published: 06th November 2013 08:46 AM  |   Last Updated: 06th November 2013 10:23 AM   |  A+A-

madhavan nair PTI photo

Former ISRO chairman G Madhavan Nair, who lauded the ISRO team for a perfect PSLV launch of the Mars Orbiter Mission on Tuesday, said the mission had already “drawn a blank” scientifically.

Talking to Express, Nair said the journey to Mars constituted just 30 per cent of the mission, while the scientific objectives constituted the remaining 70 per cent. In the latter part, the ISRO has drawn a blank as it had to settle for a Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle rather than the more powerful Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) to launch the mission, he said.

“At the outset, let me compliment the ISRO team for the perfect injection into orbit using a PSLV. As usual the PSLV has performed well. But the real journey starts now,” he said, adding that the ISRO has had to compromise so much on the project that it was akin to “cutting the head to fit the hat.”

He also stuck to his earlier stand that the whole mission was nothing more than a publicity stunt. “Initially, the ISRO had planned a dozen or so instruments (aboard the mission), but now it’s just five. Without the GSLV, they have had to jettison most of the instruments. The Methane Sensor is the only one that may prove useful, and in that area too, Nasa has already conducted studies and prepared a methane map. There’s no use at all for us to chase that,” Nair said.

Cost comparisons between Nasa’s own Mars probe MAVEN (Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN) and Mangalyaan are ludicrous since the former carried much more instruments and was more sophisticated, and consequently, a costlier venture than the ISRO’s.

According to the former chairman, who is fighting to clear his name in the corruption allegations related to the Antrix-DEVAS S-band deal, the ISRO should instead have focused on Chandrayaan-II and the development of the indigenous cryo stage and the Reusable Launch Vehicle.

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